With the end of the tax year fast approaching, and with some potentially painful changes coming to the current tax regime, now is the time to think about spring cleaning your investments.
Spring cleaning is synonymous with an annual deep clean and with so many other facets of life, your investments also need the occasional check-up or MOT.
A thorough spring clean of your investments will ensure that you’re sticking to your original objectives and alert you to make adjustments should circumstances have changed.
Before starting your spring clean, it’s worth considering the past year and in particular taking note of any changes which could impact upon your financial circumstances. Book a review meeting with your financial adviser to go through your investments in detail to re-visit your investment strategy and refresh your financial goals.
Take the time to revisit your attitude to risk and consider whether the structure of your portfolio is still in line with your wishes or whether indeed your attitude has changed. All investments involve some level of risk. Even if you choose the least risky investment,- cash, there is still a risk of inflation eroding the value of your capital or falling interest rates reducing the level of your return.
Think about whether you have unused allowances for this year. Also, are you aware of the changes in legislation that may affect you next year? In particular, from 6 April 2011, the maximum amount you’ll be able to put into a pension plan and claim tax relief on from the government, will go down from £255,000 to just £50,000. So if you’re thinking about making a big lump sum payment into your plan, it would be a very good idea to do so before the tax year ends.
Ensure that you’re up to date with your tax position, most notably Capital Gains Tax. This is currently £10,100. If the value of your investments has increased to above that limit this tax year, it might be sensible to sell some of them in order to help reduce your liability to future CGT.
Revisit your ISA portfolio. You have until April 6th to use it or lose it. Remember you can invest up to £10,200 in an Individual Savings Plan (ISA) and take the benefits free of tax. You can invest all of your allowance into a stocks and shares ISA to take advantage of the growth potential of the stock market; or if you prefer, you can invest up to half in a cash ISA and the rest in a stocks and shares ISA. Because cash ISAs are not invested in the stock market, they add stability to your holding.
Finally, consider the implications of inflation. This means that you will need more money in the future to buy the same things as now. When investing, therefore, beating inflation is an important aim. Remember, keeping objectives and circumstances up to date will certainly give your investment portfolio ample opportunity to thrive.
If you spend the time to prepare and meet with you financial adviser, you will ensure that your financial house is sparkling clean and ready for the coming year.